Northern Ireland

PSNI pay inspector £55k over post-cancer discrimination

police

A PSNI Inspector who complained she was discriminated after her treatment for cancer, has been paid £55,000 in a settlement made without admission of liability by the PSNI.

Hazel Brady was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.

Her husband, David Brady, a PSNI Chief Inspector, was paid £7,500, also without admission of liability, in a settlement over victimisation.

The PSNI said it recognised the upset and distress caused to Mrs Brady.

Mrs Brady complained of discriminatory treatment on her return to work in January 2008 and said she felt the PSNI failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her medical condition.

She said she felt that undue demands were made of her in terms of her workload which did not take her health into account, after further investigative cancer-related surgery, and that she was faced with unfounded criticism of her work.

'Extremely stressful'

She also alleged that she was denied training opportunities available to her male colleagues.

After she lodged complaints about these issues both she and her husband complained that they were victimised by the bringing against them of allegations of misconduct, which subsequently were not progressed.

She also alleged that she herself was victimised by the way in which her sickness absence for cancer-related surgery was managed.

The PSNI agreed to pay Mrs Brady £55,000 without admission of liability but acknowledged the upset and distress she had experienced and reaffirmed its commitment to equality of opportunity in the workplace.

The PSNI also confirmed that, as with all officers, account will be taken of her health and any disability when decisions are made as to what functions she will be required to fulfil and where she will be stationed.

Image caption Eileen Lavery of the Equality Commission said no-one in ill health should have to confront additional difficulties.

Inspector Brady described her experience as an "extremely stressful time".

"I was very shocked, saddened and disappointed that the treatment I received during the two and a half years after my return to work made an already difficult situation much worse for me.

"I am relieved that the PSNI have acknowledged the upset and distress I suffered.

"Although this has been an horrendous experience for me, it is my sincere hope that other officers and PSNI staff with a disability will be treated better by the organisation in future."

Eileen Lavery, Head of Strategic Enforcement with the Equality Commission, said all employers had a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for employees who had a disability.

"Coping with an illness such as cancer and its aftermath can be a very difficult experience for anyone.

"It is good that in this case the PSNI has confirmed that they will take account of the health and any disability of an officer when making decisions affecting their work," she said.

"No-one facing the challenges of ill health, or dealing with a disability, should have to confront additional difficulties which can be avoided by the application of common sense and sensitivity."

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